Liam Neeson did not have much faith in Taken when they first shot the movie. He figured it would open quietly in Europe and then go straight to VOD. However, the movie ended up earning over $225 million globally from an initial budget of $25 million. It was obvious that a sequel was going to be made and we’ve even made it to Taken 3. Neeson was pretty shocked by the success of the movies, which have collectively earned nearly $1 billion at the global box office.
While Taken was a hit at the box office, it was not a hit with the majority of critics. Most of the reviews called the action movie fun, but also “brainless” fun, which doesn’t sound too flattering. Whatever the case may be, viewers immediately took to the movie and Liam Neeson’s performance as Bryan Mills. Liam Neeson had this to say about his original thoughts on the movie.
“I’ve said this before, and no offense to Robert Kamen, our wonderful writer and my pal, but I thought, ‘Well, this is going to go straight-to-video. A short little European thriller, it might play okay for a couple weeks in France and then it will go straight-to-video.’ But it did well in France and then it went straight to South Korea, and it did very well there.”
Before Taken made it to North America and other parts of the world, Liam Neeson’s nephews had a chance to watch the movie. Neeson had no idea how they were able to do so since the movie wasn’t widely released at that point. As it turns out, they illegally obtained it, which made the actor feel like it was truly the end of the road for the project. Neeson explains.
“And then I was getting calls from my nephews in Ireland, saying, ‘[Stoner voice] Um, Uncle Liam, we saw your movie.’ I said, ‘Which one?” They said, ‘Um, Taken.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? You couldn’t have seen it.’ They said, ‘Well, we downloaded it from South Korea.’ I said, ‘You can’t do that! What are you talking about?!’ So I thought, ‘My nephews are breaking the law,’ which really pissed me off, and also I thought, ‘Well, that’s it. If you can download it, it’s gone into the ether.’ But Fox took it and they very cleverly did a good trailer and put it during various sporting events around the country and they made it a real success. I remember the first weekend it came in at No. 3, and then it came up to No. 2 and then No. 1, and then it went down to No. 4, and it came up to No. 3 again. It just had this extraordinary cycle. That’s where it started, and then there were plans to do a second one and a third one, of course. So it was luck, and you need some luck in this business.”
Liam Neeson really had nothing to worry about. Word of mouth spread about Taken from all over the globe, which helped its fate at the box office and opened the doors for two sequels. The first installment hit theaters in 2008, while the following two opened in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Fans of the franchise are still holding out hope that a fourth installment will be made.
However, even after a successful Taken TV series, Liam Neeson isn’t interested in returning for a fourth movie. When asked about the chance of a possible sequel in 2016, Neeson said, “No, there’s not. There’s only so many times your daughter can be taken.” The actor then joked, “Actually if we do have another it will be, ‘Please can you take my daughter?'” Despite the humor, Neeson really has no plans of returning to the franchise.
It’s also good to point out that Liam Neeson didn’t think Taken 3 was ever going to happen. When asked about it in 2012, the actor said, “I don’t see [a third film being made]. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I really don’t.” He concluded by noting, “I can’t see a possible scenario where audiences wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, come on! She’s taken again?'” He was able to pull it together again, but it looks like fans will have to settle with a trilogy and a TV series. The interview with Liam Neeson was originally conducted by Entertainment Weekly.